A REMOTE controlled metal detector built by a Wiltshire man could revolutionise the art of treasure hunting.
Resembling something from the TV show Robot Wars, the invention, devised by John Corney, of Corsley Heath, can climb over footballs and has an on-board camera to show its controller where it is going.
Mr Corney, 50, who is qualified in remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) control, has found hundreds of old coins and medieval artifacts with his invention.
He said: "It makes a fantastic metal detector and I think it is the future of metal detecting units. Anyone could use it because it is remote controlled. I hurt my back in the Gulf War and can't swing round so this is great for me and for people of all abilities to use.
"A camera is placed in a little cab in the front which transmits back to a small screen. It is as if you were driving the thing."
The invention, which has cost Mr Corney £2,000 to develop over the last six years, is based on an idea he got after hearing a story about land mines.
Mr Corney, who works for Oceaneering International AG, a leading deep-sea ROV operator, said: "I heard of a lady in Vietnam once who used a stick to find land mines after she had lost two sons to them.
I later saw a remote controlled toy car in a shop window for £20 and I thought why not just stick a metal detector on it and use that."
Nicknamed Champion the Wonder Robot, the device has so far helped Mr Corney find 200 old coins, including three silver six pence pieces, and a Second World War military medical badge, along Wiltshire's pathways.
Last month Mr Corney also discovered part of a Medieval Pilgrims badge, which has now been donated to Warminster Library Museum He said: "I was delighted. It was my first trip out this year with my machine. The badge looks like part of a puzzle, it is very interesting."
Mr Corney is now looking for a developer to help get the device on to the market and available to everyone.
He said: "This particular one I built a year ago. I modify them all the time and then work them to destruction until they break down but this one is refusing to die. It does track far better than a hand held detector because it goes at a steady speed and just generally detects more efficiently."